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The Whole Hog: Exploring the Extraordinary…

The Whole Hog: Exploring the Extraordinary Potential of Pigs

by Lyall Watson

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All you ever wanted to know about pigs… and then some! Subtitled 'Exploring the Extraordinary Potential of Pigs' this book does what it says on the tin. It is written by an expert in the field, who has an easy engaging writing style and an attractive sense of humour, three ingredients which are always a good combination in any book.
Turns out that pigs, wild or domesticated, are wholly misunderstood. Despite prejudices to the contrary they are in fact very clean animals who, when circumstances allow, will go to lengths to set up separate latrines away from the 'sounding' (a 'sounding' is the proper word for a herd of pigs: one learns a lot from this book!). They are also intelligent and affectionate animals who like company and can communicate with each other, and with those humans who bother to learn their piggy-language. We are considerably indebted to them for advances in medicine since their bodies and internals are very similar to ours and therefore have been used extensively in medical experiments. This of course is one of the disadvantages of being like humans, as far as pigs are concerned.
Extraordinary paragraphs abound. Look at this from page 231: "The lyric poet Robert Herrick, he of 'Gather Ye Rosebuds While ye May', kept a clerical pig which followed him everywhere and may have contributed to his ejection from a Devonshire vicarage by the Puritans. Lord Gardenstone, an eminent Scots lawyer, kept the best-known legal pig, which shared his bed".
However, I must not leave my reader with the idea that this is another 'jokey', patronising Walt-Disney-style book about animals. The writer has spent a lifetime studying his subject and has written an absolutely serious book that provides the reader with insights on pig-culture, and also on 'our' human culture. The author says: "Defining culture as uniquely human is just lazy thinking… If California sea-otters can develop a tradition of using stone anvils to open clam shells, and Japanese macaques are already beginning to carry pebbles about, looking for some appropriate use for these proto-tools, I predict that pigs are going to be found to be cultured animals in ways best suited to animals without grasping hands" (p.243).

Thoroughly recommended. ( )
  Eamonn12 | Jan 20, 2010 |
Beautifully illustrated edition of a natural history of pigs and boars. Watson fills his book with fascinating zoological esoterica; equally memorable are his fond anecdotes of time spent in the company of pigs, and the insights he gained into their personalities. ( )
  stancarey | Sep 5, 2009 |
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"In recounting his close encounters with wild pigs on three continents, Lyall Watson explores how profoundly pigs have succeeded, from the Gadarene Swine to Miss Piggy, in capturing our imagination." "The Whole Hog is a new look at pigs as they really are, and an antidote to centuries of superstition and taboo. In fact it is nothing less than a clarion call for an honest reassessment of hoggish behaviour, and a celebration of the fascinating, true nature of pigs." "When it comes to real intelligence, Lyall Watson suggests that pigs deserve to be considered up there with elephants, dolphins and the great apes."--BOOK JACKET.… (more)

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